Lewis Hamilton wrapped up his third Formula 1 world championship with victory in a thrilling United States Grand Prix.
Held on a damp Circuit of the Americas, the Mercedes driver was forced to come from behind on more than one occasion to claim the win and the championship.
With the title battle seemingly set to continue on to the Mexican Grand Prix, Hamilton made the most of rival Nico Rosberg running wide at Turn 16 with eight laps remaining to enjoy an unchallenged run to the chequered flag.
Rosberg was forced to settle for second with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel close behind in third.
Hamilton’s third world championship, after his 2008 and 2014 triumphs, sees him become the 10th driver to achieve the feat. It also equals the number of championships won by his idol Ayrton Senna.
“It’s just incredible to equal Ayrton,” said Hamilton.
“My target was always three titles as he was the one who inspired me. There is no one I want to equal now – I just want to carry on as far and long as I can.
“For any driver, you want to win in anything you compete in – but this is the ultimate goal.”
The race began with the two Mercedes drivers duelling on the run to the first corner with Hamilton squeezing pole sitter Rosberg to take the lead.
As a result of the move, Rosberg dropped to fifth but he soon jumped back to second following a virtual Safety Car period caused by a clash between Sauber team-mates Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson.
The Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Danill Kvyat, that started third and fourth, soon latched onto the Mercedes duo to create a four-way fight for the lead.
It wasn’t long before Ricciardo shot to the front with Rosberg moving by Hamilton, relegating the championship leader to third as the track began to dry.
Hamilton responded by pitting for soft dry tyres followed by Rosberg, which allowed the pair to move back to the front as the Red Bulls struggled on the slick rubber.
Rosberg had built up a healthy lead over Hamilton before the Safety Car was deployed to retrieve Ericsson’s car which had come to halt on track.
Racing resumed for a brief moment until a collision between Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg saw the introduction of a second virtual Safety Car.
This gave Hamilton the lead as Rosberg elected to pit.
Although the Brit would rejoin behind his opposite number when he pitted under another Safety Car period just laps later, following a race ending crash for Kvyat.
The interruption set up a grandstand finish between Rosberg and Hamilton which was only decided by a mistake from the leader eight laps from the end.
In the end only 12 cars finished the race with Max Verstappen producing an impressive final stint to secure fourth ahead of Force India’s Sergio Perez with Carlos Sainz in sixth.
Sainz was demoted to seventh following a five second penalty for speeding in pit lane, promoting McLaren’s Jenson Button to sixth.
Pastor Maldonado, Nasr and Ricciardo completed the top 10.
Fernando Alonso, who had been running as high as fifth before an engine issue, and Manor’s Alexander Rossi were the remaining classified finishers.
Result: Formula 1 United States Grand Prix
|4||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Renault||56||+22.359s|
|5||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||56||+24.413s|
|7||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||56||+30.619s|
|10||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||56||+53.371s|
|DNF||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/Renault||41||Spin|
|DNF||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||35||Collision|